Talking Heads | Psycho Killer

10 11 2010

This tune is an all-time great. Not only are the song and lyrics amazing, but the various versions that exist make it legendary. As I said, the song as it appears in it’s original studio form is great but this acoustic guitar/drum machine version from The Talking Head’s 1984 concert film-meets-performance art piece, Stop Making Sense, is truly amazing. David Byrne, walks out on to an empty stage. Empty. As in, they haven’t even set up the backdrop or any of the band’s gear yet.  He drops a boombox at his feet and presses play to cue the drum track. Within seconds, Byrne begins to play those classic chords and then he rips into the verse. As he continues, the stage crew begins to build the set around him for the rest of the show. There is even an 80’s style drum break that comes at the end. Couple that with his moves and you got a real winner.  Check it out below.

And if you haven’t seen the whole film, make sure you seek it out immediately. It may very well be the best “concert” film of EVER!

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Pink Floyd | Live at Pompeii

7 10 2010

This 1972 classic features Pink Floyd playing live in the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater in Pompeii, Italy. The film is really cool. It was directed by Adrian Maben and recorded in October of 1971.  Some versions of this film have additional footage from an Abbey Road concert that showcased a bunch of new material from the bands upcoming album, The Dark Side of The Moon.  Below are the six songs performed live in Pompeii. If you are only going to watch one, it has to be “Mademoiselle Nobs”. It a very short tune that has David Gilmour playing harmonica, Roger Waters on guitar, Richard Wright on keyboards and a Russian Wolfhound named Nobs on lead vocals. This song was originally titled “Seamus”, which first appeared on the “Meddle” album released in 1971. It was renamed for this, the only live version of it, in honor of their guest vocalist. You have to check out this dog, it’s fantastic.

The other songs are great too. Plus, the performance footage amongst the ashy ruins is pretty spectacular. Watch all six tracks or, if you just want to watch a few, make sure you check out “Nobs” and “One of These Days”. I also really like “Saucerful of Secrets”, but you may want to skip to about 5 mins into it. The crescendo intro is pretty tough to endure if your not in the mood. This song happens to be my favorite from this entire performance. With or without the intro, it’s just a really good tune.

Echoes Pt 1

Careful With That Axe, Eugene

Saucerful of Secrets

One of These Days

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Mademoiselle Nobs

Echoes Pt 2

References:

More info on Pink Floyd

More info on Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii





Randy Watson & Sexual Chocolate

21 09 2010

This clip from the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy Coming To America cracks me up every single time. The whole movie is hilarious but this is by far the best moment. It seems that the all the really good scenes  in this movie have Eddie and co-star Arsenio Hall playing multiple characters. This was actually the first of many movies where Murphy would take on multiple parts. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must.  His soul-singer extraordinaire Randy Watson is amazing. Caution: You may find yourself watching this over and over again.

Reverend Brown’s introduction is the funniest part. So without further ado, here he is… Jackson Heights own… Randy Watson! PS– The song is Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love Of All”. A little side note about this song: it was actually performed by George Benson first but made famous by Houston. Enjoy the whole clip…

References:

More info on Coming to America

Coming To America on IMDB

More info on Eddie Murphy

More info on Arsenio Hall

More info on John Landis

More info on Whitney Houston

More info on “The Greatest Love Of All”





Cinespia | Easy Rider

8 07 2010

Last weekend we went to see Easy Rider at Cinespia. This is one of the coolest things we have done since coming to LA. Every weekend in the summer they project films, usually old cult classics, at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. As creepy as that might sound, it is actually pretty amazing. You come in while the sun is still up and setup. People bring full picnics complete with food and wine… or beer, etc.  It’s pretty much an organized free for all. As you might imagine there was a lot of smoke in the air for this particular showing and, if I had to guess, some occasional psychedelics depending on which blanket you passed by. Needless to say, the crowd at Easy Rider included quite a few hippies amongst the usual enclave of LA hipsters and some regular folks.

If you haven’t seen this movie, it really is a classic. Beyond the counter-culture subtext, it’s a story of the road. Thinking about it now, there isn’t much dialogue. Although, the bit that is present is quite good. This story is mostly told through images with the help of sound, GREAT sound. On the whole, it feels a tad dated but that is part of the appeal and, of course, the cast is really great. It includes Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and an odd appearance by, none-other-than, Phil Spector. Fonda is particularly great in this one. I kept telling Lady GG how great he was all throughout, I really couldn’t help myself. Nicholson is, well, Jack: great as ever. The end of the movie is a little… should I say, rough. I won’t ruin it but, you should definitely be cognizant as a viewer. You certainly won’t see it coming, nor will you forget it.

Anyway, at the time of it’s release Dennis Hopper was applauded not just for his acting, writing and directing in this feature but the soundtrack as well. Back in 1969 it was considered groundbreaking, which featured music from The Band, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf and Bob Dylan. Dylan actually was reluctant to contribute so he had Roger McGuinn of The Byrds record his songs. In fact, for “Ballad of Easy Rider”, he only wrote the first verse and said, “give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it”.

The soundtrack was released along side the film in ’69 and rose to #6 on the album charts. There was a deluxe version released in 2004 that included an additional disc of music that appeared in the film but didn’t make the list on the first printing. I guess that’s one of the biggest shortcomings for vinyl, it would have taken 4 discs to accommodate the complete track listing… which you can find HERE.

When I think of Easy Rider, these next few tunes always come to mind… they’re still classics today. It really shows you, that Dennis Hopper was one clever dude, perhaps even genius. It’s too bad he’s gone but at least his work will always live on forever.

*I just discovered that the embedding has been dsabled on a few of these videos. Typically, I would find other versions but in this case I recommend you follow the links back to YouTube. Just click the play button, then use the link in the window to view it on YouTube… Sorry, but it’s worth it.

References:

More info on Easy Rider

More info on Cinespia

More info on Dennis Hopper

More info on Peter Fonda

More info on Jack Nicholson

More info on Phil Spector

More info on “Ballad of Easy Rider”

More info on “The Pusher”

More info on “The Weight”

More info on “If 6 Was 9”

More info on Roger McGuinn

More info on The Byrds

More info on Jimi Hendrix

More info on Steppenwolf





Herbie in Japanese TV Ad – Straight!

29 03 2010

I recently found this funny old Japanese TV ad of Herbie Hancock endorsing Suntory Whiskey (a Japanese brand). Being a big fan of both Herbie and Whiskey makes this one a no-brainer. Tack on my fondness for the far east, specifically Japan and it goes without saying… I love it! I think the tag line “Straight!” is supposed to be a play on words referring not only to the booze but also to the concept of a straight feel versus a swing feel in music. I could be wrong though as that’s just a rash assumption based on my oh-so clever marketing prowess.

This ad is actually not that unusual as the Japanese LOVE jazz. They did decades ago and, unlike most of the rest of the world, they still do today. Almost exactly a year ago I visited “Nippon” for a few weeks and it was awesome to see how much they still appreciate what is now considered to be a dying art. The song is the original post-bop version of “Watermelon Man” (as opposed to Herbies funk fusion reinterpretation from the 70’s). In the ad it says it features drummer Tony Williams and bassist Ron Carter… all true but we only hear them in this clip, no visuals. As a little aside, it should be said that Tony and Ron make up one of the greatest drum/bass combos in all of jazz history. In my mind they’re THE best. Even better than Roach/Mingus or LeFaro/Motian or any other “giants” you might toss in there. Back in the 60’s, Ron and Tony were both called upon by Miles Davis as just kids to join Herbie and saxophonist Wayne Shorter to be in Miles’ New Quintet. The same group that has made some legendary music throughout that period. They all went on to be hugely influential in the history of jazz and music as a whole, and not just for their work with Miles. I’d love to go on and on and on but, I’ll save it for future posts.

There are also a few alternate versions from this same series. Here are 2 that feature Ron Carter. Ron is just so cool… check him out: Ron #1 & Ron #2

You may recognize the name Suntory Whiskey from the Sofia Coppola film (featuring Bill Murray) Lost In Translation. Here is the clip of Murray doing the ad in the movie… It always cracks me up. If you want to YouTube Suntory you can find a TON of hilarious commercials of famous American actors, musicians and popstars. That is what makes the Bill Murray piece so funny in the movie. Feel free to do so, and see what you find.





RIP Corey

11 03 2010

Corey Haim died yesterday at 38 years old of what looks like a drug overdose. Haim is but half the 80’s acting duo “The Corey’s”. Famous for his work in The Lost Boys but perhaps more famous for the countless B and C movies he has done since. As an up and coming child actor both he and Corey Feldman had ongoing drug and alcohol habits that have been very public for years. That aside, let’s remember Corey for his peaks rather than his valleys. Here is the theme music to one of my favorite Corey’s movies, License To Drive. The song is perfect for the movie. It’s Billy Ocean’s “Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car”. The image in this video is the oh-so-80’s movie poster for the 1988 film, featuring both Corey’s in cool mode.

In case you are not familiar with this epic film, the full trailer is below. In fact, I recommend you honor Corey posthumously and rent it tonight. It’s not quite a John Hughes masterpiece but it’s a classic nonetheless. The saddest part of all this is that there will never be a “Corey’s” comeback as I had always hoped for.

Feldman’s reaction to Haim’s death

License To Drive on IMDB

Corey Haim on IMDB

Corey Feldman on IMDB

License To Drive on Wiki

Haim’s Official Site





Tim Burton @ The MoMA

5 03 2010

I went to the Tim Burton exhibit at The MoMA yesterday. It was really cool. It’s mostly made up of drawings and rough sketches of both early ideas from his adolescence and the initial concepts that would eventually become his films. There were some sculptures, props and set pieces there as well. They also had some of his early animated shorts and TV commercials screening in areas of the exhibit.  Overall, it’s worth checking out.

Burton offers a lot of great info in this Behind The Scenes footage. In this, you will see many of the pieces in the exhibit and a great narrative from Burton on some of the works.

If you liked that, there are a few more short videos about how they accomplished some of the installation pieces for the MoMA. The links are below:

Creatures & Carousel

Edward Scissorhands Topiary

Balloon Boy

Creatures Mouth

Here is just a sample of some of the drawings you can see. Everything at the exhibit captures every bit of  Burton’s amazingly unusual and fascinating point of view.

The list of films that Burton has directed is quite long and remarkable but there is one on said list that I was never quite a fan of. It always seemed more of a joke than anything else. Perhaps it was that Michael J. Fox was in it or maybe it has something to do with how overtly kitsch it was. This movie is, of course, Mars Attacks. Come to think of it, perhaps the turn off is a bit more personal. Yes, I believe it was this that spoiled it for me. This anecdote is a tad “inside” but enjoyable nevertheless: When I was in school, one of my teachers had a band called The Bossa Nova Beatniks. He always tried to claim they were legit by sighting a performance at CBGBs but as students we always thought it was incredibly lame. It was really odd because they would occasionally perform at school events and even in a few talent shows. I know,  it’s very weird. I believe what started it was that I had a no-name “actress” as a classmate (she will remain only partially nameless) who often used the Beatniks as her backup band in various shows. That aside, on their solo scholastic gigs, they would do this song called “Ack Ack”, which was their interpretation of the movie Mars Attacks. Sounds like a hit, right? Well, it’s amazing what a few years can do.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hate everything about the tune, but I have a new found appreciation for the Beatnicks… who are rumored to be big in Cleveland by the way. What this whole story amounts to is that I actually found a video of the Mars Attacks movie edited to the song “Ack Ack”. It’s just too good to leave out of this post. Enjoy…

Tim Burton’s official site

Buy The Illustrations of Tim Burton book

Tim Burton on IMDB

Tim Burton at The MoMA








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